In their opening game on Thursday night at Willis Field, the Italy Junior Varsity held an 8-6 lead over Maypearl until D.J. Crownover powered 56 yards into the end zone with less than three minutes remaining in the game. Ethan Eastwood’s successful 2 point conversion gave the Panthers a 14-8 win over the Gladiators.
Crownover had scored another touchdown on the first play of their first possession. The powerful running back took the snap, caught Italy’s defense off guard and sprinted 69 yards into the end zone. The 2 point conversion failed, giving the Panthers a 6-0 lead over the Gladiators.
On Italy’s second possession, Corrin Frazier gained 52 yards on five carries, but the Gladiators could not get into the end zone and turned the ball over on downs. Two possessions later, when Maypearl faced a 4th down on their own 15, a bad snap landed them in the end zone for a safety to give Italy 2 points.
The Gladiators got a second chance to score with 1:30 remaining in the half. Quarterback Justin Buchanan hit Jase Holden with a 22 yard pass to put Italy on the Maypearl 2 yard line and all the Italy fans on their feet. On the next play, Frazier dug in with a great second effort to put the ball in the end zone and give the Gladiators an 8-6 halftime lead.
Possession would seesaw back and forth until Crownover sealed the game for the Panthers with his second TD. Penalties were a factor in the contest. Italy had 7 for 65 yards while Maypearl racked up 11 for 95 yards.
Outstanding Gladiator Players of the Game
- Offense – Justin Buchanan/Corrin Frazier
- Defense – Bobby Wilson/Ryan Ashcraft
- Block – Kyle Jackson
- Thief – Corrin Frazier
- Beef – Robert Sparks
- Hit – Jacob Lopez